RGI News

Writing Project Completion Reports

February 2008

In a previous article I discussed writing progress reports. Here, I present a format for organizing a project completion report, which is the final report in a series of progress reports. Unfortunately it often gets skipped because we are moved quickly on to new projects which demand our attention. This report though, is an important one because it allows the opportunity to describe aspects of the project that went particularly well and things we might do differently if we had the chance. Consider this a “Lessons Learned” type document.

A Review of the Writing Pyramid

We encourage engineers to visualize their documents as two blocks of information, the first much smaller than the second, placed one above the other to form a pyramid:

In the Summary Statement, you present your main message: the information you most need to tell your reader.
(See previous articles on focusing your message archived on our website)

In the Supporting Information, you answer the questions:

Who?
Where?
When?

What?
Why?
How?

The answers will provide your reader with the detail they need to fully understand the situation. In longer letters and reports, such as a project completion report, the Supporting Information compartment is broken into several smaller compartments:

These writing compartments contain the following information:

  • The Summary Statement identifies that the project is complete and states whether there is any special information the reader needs to know.
  • The Background states who authorized the project, its starting date and planned completion date, and who was involved in implementing it.
  • the Highlights describe the most important aspects of the project.
  • The Exceptions identify any variances that occurred from the original project plan and, for each variance, discusses why it was necessary, how it affected the project, what action was taken to lessen its effect, and whether any further action is necessary.
  • The final compartment can be
    • an Outcome if the project is complete and no further work needs to be done, or
    • an Action Statement if further work is necessary (in which case it identifies what needs to be done, and when and by whom it must be carried out).

Here is an example of a short project completion report sent by email:

A Typical Project Completion Report

 
 

To:
From:
Date:
Subject:

Arlene Wychinski
Jake Brown
February 23, 2008
Wrap-up of Faraday Petroleums' Project

 

Summary:

Background:

 

I completed my analysis of oil samples for Faraday Petroleums on February 22, eight days later than planned. The work was done at the refinery as requested in purchase order 2837 dated December 13, 2007. It was scheduled to start on January 8 and end on February 14.

 

Project Highlights:

Exceptions:

The work plan called for me to analyze 132 oil samples within the six-week period, but three problems caused me to overrun the schedule and complete four fewer analyses than specified. The delay was a strike of refinery personnel and a faulty spectropho-ometer that had to be sent out for repair and recalibration. The incomplete analyses were caused by four contaminated samples that could not be replaced in less than seven weeks.

 

Outcome:

Kevin Halstead, the refinery manager, agreed to a cost overrun and has written to you separately about that. He also agreed that it would be uneconomical for me to return to analyze replacements for the four contaminated samples. When I delivered the 128 analyses to him on February 22, he accepted the project as being complete.

 
 

- Jake

Pyramid writing plans provide a framework for organizing your information into a coherent document, yet they are not intended to be rigid structures. The number of compartments and their labels can be tailored to suit a particular situation or topic.

Online instruction on how to write short reports is available at www.rgilearning.com

Lisa Moretto is a Sr. Consultant with RGI Learning. For 16 years she has helped engineers improve their oral and written communication skills. Visit www.rgilearning.com or call (585) 461-3617 to learn about RGI’s courses.

© 2008 RGI Learning

 

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